With the demise of Dr. Kireet Joshi on Sunday, 14 September 2014, at 5 a.m. the Aurobindonian firmament has lost one of its brightest stars. Born on 10 August 1931, he studied philosophy and law at the Elphinstone College under the University of Bombay. In 1952 at the suggestion of Prof. Chubb he met K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran at Bombay at the latter’s residence. The interview with Amal Kiran which lasted for more than an hour made young Kireet Joshi feel ‘greatly widened’ and ‘deeply happy’ (to quote his own words) and he began to regard Amal Kiran as his first teacher in regards to the teaching of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
In 1953 Kireet Joshi was awarded a gold medal and the Vedanta Prize for topping the Master of Arts examination. In 1955 he was selected for the I.A.S. and in the following year he was posted as Assistant Collector of Surat. However, in November 1956 he resigned from his services to join Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as an inmate. In 1958 he was made the first Registrar of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education where he taught philosophy and psychology to the students of the Higher Course. Under the guidance of the Mother, he took part in several educational experiments which included the Free Progress System. He authored educational materials based on Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle and conducted studies on The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga as well. To share the results of his extensive research on a larger scale, he had organized numerous seminars and symposiums. It was also due to his efforts that Sri Aurobindo Ashram was recognized as a Research Institution by the Government of India and exemptions under Sections 35 (i) and (ii) were provided to it.
1976 was a significant year in the life of Kireet Joshi. A greater Call came to him from the outside world in the form of an invitation from Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, who, being well-aware of his competence in the field of education, made him the Educational Adviser in the Ministry of Education. In that very year, he was appointed Member-Secretary of the National Committee on Viswa Bharati under the Chairmanship of Dr. K.L. Shrimali. He not only redesigned and redrafted the Bill for Viswa Bharati University but also developed the ideas as well as the Bills of Pondicherry University and Indira Gandhi National Open University. Also in 1976 he was made a Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, a post which he occupied till 1988. In 1976 he was elected as Vice-President of International Commission on Education at Geneva for a period of two years.
In 1981 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Secretary of Auroville International Advisory Council. He also played a pivotal role in the establishment of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Educational Research at Auroville. In 1999 he was appointed as the Chairman of Auroville Foundation, a post he occupied till 2004.
Also in 1981 Kireet Joshi was made a Member of the University Grants Commission, a post he adorned till 1990. During the tenure of his membership, he rendered outstanding contributions towards the development of new methodologies of education in the tertiary system. He conceptualized autonomous colleges and proposed several innovations with the view of providing cultural understanding and spiritual values through aesthetic studies and also promoted the concept of value-based system of management.
In 1982 Kireet Joshi was made the Member-Secretary of National Commission for Teachers (for school education) and National Commission for Teachers (for higher education). He played a significant role in the creation of Indian Council of Philosophical Research which was established to promote Indian philosophical traditions. For a number of years he served the organization as the Member-Secretary and from 2000 to 2006 he functioned as the Chairman of the said organization. He also developed Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratisthan and served as its Founder-Member and Secretary. From 1983 to 1989 he was a Member of the Executive Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Shimla. He represented India as a delegate in the conferences of UNESCO organized in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988, chaired the UNESCO Committee on International Education from 1983 to 1987 and was also the Vice-Chairman of the UNESCO Institute of Education (Hamburg) from 1986 to 1990.
In 1983 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Special Secretary to the Indian Government in the capacity of which he organized several programmes related to the various aspects of higher education, youth services, language development and UNESCO affairs. In 1987 he conceptualized the International Hindi University at Wardha to develop and promote studies in Hindi both at the national and international levels. As the Vice-Chairman of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan he guided the activities of the organization in the field of Sanskrit and also developed schemes for the promotion of Sanskrit studies in various Indian universities. Not only did he frame the constitutions of Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha at New Delhi and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha at Tirupathi but also worked to provide the status of deemed universities to both the institutions. From 2006 to 2008 he was the Editorial Fellow of the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture.
In 2008 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Educational Advisor to the Chief Minister of Gujarat and he adorned the post for two years. In 2009 he was appointed as the first Executive Chairman of the Gujarat Educational Innovations Commission.
Kireet Joshi was associated with The Mother’s Institute of Research from 1977 to 2001 as the Managing Trustee and had undertaken the task of translating the thirteen volumes of Mother’s Agenda into various regional Indian languages. He was also quite close to Satprem and Sujata Nahar. It was to Kireet Joshi that Satprem had sent a note in 2006 in which the latter had written: ‘Je suis arrivé au bout’ (‘I have reached the goal’).
As a pioneer in the field of value-based education, recognitions and awards poured on Kireet Joshi. In 1989 he received an award from the Indian Council for Child Education for his invaluable contribution in the field of child education. In that very year he received the National Citizen’s Award. In 1996 Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha conferred upon him the degree of D.Litt. In the following year he received the Sewa Ratna Award.
Kireet Joshi was also a prolific writer whose published works cover a vast variety of themes including education, Indian culture, philosophy, spirituality and integral yoga. His notable works include titles like Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Sri Aurobindo and the Integral Yoga, The New Synthesis of Yoga, Varieties of Yogic Experience and Integral Realisation, Significance of Indian Yoga, Synthesis of Yoga in the Veda, Synthesis of Yoga in the Upanishads, The Gita and its Synthesis of Yoga, Integral Yoga: An Outline of Major Aims, Processes, Methods and Results, Integral Yoga of Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, Supermind in Integral Yoga, Integral Yoga and Evolutionary Mutation, Integral Yoga, Evolution and the Next Species, Bhagavadagita and Contemporary Crisis, A Philosophy of the Role of the Contemporary Teacher, A Philosophy of the Education for the Contemporary Youth, A Philosophy of the Evolution for the Contemporary Man, Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays, Philosophy of Value Oriented Education: Theory and Practice, Philosophy of Supermind and Contemporary Crisis, Philosophy of Indian Art, On Materialism, Towards A New Social Order, The Veda and Indian Culture, Glimpses of Vedic Literature, Landmarks of Hinduism, The Portals of Vedic Knowledge, Indian Identity and Cultural Continuity, Education at Crossroads, A National Agenda for Education, Education for Tomorrow, Education for Character Development, Innovations in Education, Indian Pedagogy and Towards A New Curriculum to name a few.
A few years ago Kireet Joshi returned to Pondicherry where he stayed at ‘Care Nursing Home’. This home-coming did not imply that he retired; on the contrary, he continued to guide scholars on themes related to ‘Science and Spirituality’ and ‘Spiritual Education’. He was the living example of the Sanskrit shloka: vidya dadati vinayam. He was always approachable and he encouraged youngsters to work on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. The present author fondly recalls how he had taken an avid interest in the former’s booklet Sri Aurobindo on Ethics and had asked him to work on a monograph on Sri Aurobindo’s political life. Our organization Overman Foundation was privileged to honour Kireet Joshi with the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ in August 2011.
Towards the end of his life, Kireet Joshi was diagnosed with throat cancer. A few days ago he was brought to the Ashram Nursing Home where he passed away on Sunday, 14 September 2014, at 5 a.m.
In his tribute to Kireet Joshi, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has written: “Saddened by demise of Kireet Joshi. He will be remembered as a fine scholar and educationist, devoted to the principles of Sri Aurobindo. As advisor to Gujarat CM, Kireet Bhai played a key role in setting up of Children’s University and Institute of Teacher Education.”
With the demise of Kireet Joshi the Aurobindonian community has lost the last among the Greats. The emptiness created by his death is irreparable.
With warm regards,